26,000 km with my Skoda Rapid: Bilstein B6 dampers, ESP retrofit & more

I started some discussions with Nikhil of N2 Autotech to get the stock ABS pump replaced with the Euro spec pump with ESP which would help enabling traction control, hill hold and TPMS.

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It’s been close to 2.5 years and a little over 26,000km with the 1.0 TSI and the ownership so far has been absolutely trouble-free. I wish the way forward remains the same and as exciting as it is.

The Rapid TSI underwent two annual services (15,000 and 30,000km) by now, leaving no room for any surprise. I’ve purchased the maintenance package for 4 years/60,000km upfront and the service costs were covered in this.

Over these years, the Rapid managed to get some mods which really transformed the way it drives - courtesy Bilstein B6 and OEM ESP retrofit.

OEM ESP Retrofit (15,550km)

I started some discussions with Nikhil of N2 Autotech to get the stock ABS pump replaced with the Euro spec pump with ESP which would help enabling traction control, hill hold and TPMS. I knew another BHPian friend VivekCherian already placed a similar order with Nikhil for his Polo 1.0 TSI MT (along with tons of other mods) and I hit him up with so many questions. Big thanks to him for all the help offered. Eventually, I too placed the order towards end of July 2021 and then the wait started. By first week of October, Nikhil managed to source all parts required for the retrofit. Vivek’s car had quite a lot of mods to undergo and Nikhil wanted to work on our cars back to back. In the end, we agreed upon later half of December for the mods.

Finally, Nikhil is in the city and Vivek’s Polo was being worked upon. I handed over my Rapid to him as he dropped the Polo at my place where he managed to complete some minor work which was pending. Nikhil kept on updating me on the progress by sending pictures and videos even without I asked for, much appreciated.

Here are a few pictures as he progressed with the retrofit.

Parts required for the retrofit

That's the Euro ABS pump now fitted

Steering to get the slip ring with angle sensor

The switch to turn ON/OFF Traction Control is installed

Apparently, the car was delivered next day morning and we tested ESP in real time by stomping the A pedal, indeed it kicked in and warning flashed on the cluster. An OEM switch was added on to one of the empty slots on the dash so that traction control can be turned off if there’s a need and we verified it’s working too.

I also sourced the trumpet horns from Jetta and which got installed as well. Here are the part numbers.

Low tone part # 5C0 951 221 B

High tone part# 5C0 951 223 C

Suspension upgrade - Bilstein B6 (20,500km)

I felt the need of a stiffer suspension setup as the car was used 90% of the time on highways. This was an easy one though. With numerous positive reviews about Bilstein B6 on team-bhp and other European forums, I simply zeroed in on the B6. Big thanks to d_himan who answered all my questions on B6 and I placed my order with TDC. The Bilstein catalogue lists 35-168560 and 24-231312 for the front and rear. The front cross-references with the Polo as well while the rear fits on the Vento and the Rapid alone. The package was delivered by Fedex and of course I had to pay the customs duty.

I got the Bilsteins installed the very next day and was truly amazed by the results. The difference was indeed day and night. The car feels a lot more planted and unlimited fun along the corners. The ride has become a little stiffer than the stock setup and potholes are felt inside the cabin at slow speed. But it’s a different story as you gain speed.

Top strut mounts and the bearings were replaced while installing the B6. They weren’t worn out, but I didn’t want to take chances.

B6 vs the stock

The front is in!

The rear too.

The front brake discs were already showing signs of giving up and I also replaced them along with the pads. I’ve got the rotors from Fabia’s bin (Part # 6R0 615 301 C) as they are of superior quality and are made in Germany while the original discs in the Rapid were from a vendor in India. Many fellow TSI owners were complaining of the poor quality of rotors and hopefully the Fabia’s set will hold good for long.

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